Skip to main content

Full text of "[untitled] The American Historical Review, (1909-07-01), pages 835-836"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 

Ray : The Repeal of the Missouri Compromise 835 

The treatment of the territorial period is somewhat briefer and nat- 
urally does not contain so much that is absolutely new; one feels that it 
has less attraction for the writer. Too much space, it would seem, has 
been given to biographical detail; the Boones Lick settlements certainly 
do not receive sufficient attention; it is rather surprising that more use 
has not been made of the files of the Gazette at St. Louis, especially for 
the local history of the Compromise struggle. Still it remains by far 
the best account as yet of the period. The discussion of social condi- 
tions is particularly valuable. 

The book has certain faults incident to the lack of special training 
which the author so frankly confesses in his preface. Although the 
foot-notes and references are very numerous, the sources of information, 
especially in biographical details, are not always clear. A list of author- 
ities would add to the value of the whole work and would, probably, 
have obviated the lack of uniformity in the citing of titles. It should be 
more clearly indicated that the numerous references to Hunt's Minutes 
are to the copy in the possession of the Missouri Historical Society, not 
to the original at Jefferson City. The indefinite references to the collec- 
tions of this society, however, are unavoidable in the present condition 
of its invaluable material. 

The history is clearly written and despite the mass of factual infor- 
mation is redeemed from dullness by the enthusiasm, and, especially in 
the later chapters, by the shrewd common-sense of the writer. But 
unless one is familiar with the unorganized condition of the materials 
and the lack of preliminary studies, he cannot appreciate the difficulties 
of the subject, nor how successfully, on the whole, Mr. Houck has sur- 
mounted them. He has done a real service to the student of to-day and 
laid a broad foundation for the future. Mention should be made of the 
numerous well-executed reproductions of maps and portraits. The index 
is voluminous and apparently adequate. 

Jonas Viles. 

The Repeal of the Missouri Compromise: its Origin and Authorship. 

By P. Orman Ray, Ph.D., Professor of History and Political 

Science, Pennsylvania State College. (Cleveland, Ohio: The 

Arthur H. Clark Company. 1909. Pp. 315.) 

" The preceding pages have been written in vain ", concludes the 
author of this doctoral dissertation, " if they do not justify the con- 
clusion that the repeal of the Missouri Compromise in 1854 had its 
real origin in western conditions and particularly in the peculiar polit- 
ical conditions existing in the State of Missouri and that the real 
originator of the Repeal was David R. Atchison." But surely one 
may dissent from the latter conclusion without feeling that Dr. Ray 
has written in vain. The investigation of the Western antecedents 
of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill was decidedly worth while. If Dr. Ray 

AM HIST. REV., VOL. XI V. — 54. 

836 Reviews of Books 

has not attained a new point of view, at least he has presented a fresh 
and suggestive account of the Missouri factional struggle between 
1852 and 1854, and he has established successfully the contention that 
there was a popular demand in the trans-Mississippi country for the 
organization of the Nebraska territory. 

The claim that Atchison was the originator of the repeal may be 
termed a recrudescence of the conspiracy theory first asserted by 
Colonel John A. Parker of Virginia in 1880. No new manuscript 
material has been found to support the theory, but the available bits 
of evidence have been collated carefully in this volume. It is argued 
that Douglas was not particularly interested in Nebraska, that he did 
not introduce any bill for the territorial organization of Nebraska 
between 1848 and 1854, and that he had " no motive of political preser- 
vation " which could have led him to originate the repeal of the Mis- 
souri Compromise, until Atchison, hard pressed by the Benton faction, 
forced this course upon him with dire threats. 

In view of the lively interest which Douglas at all times exhibited 
in the fate of the country between Missouri and our Pacific possessions, 
it is difficult to understand why he should be accounted indifferent to 
Nebraska. He did not, it is true, introduce any bill for the territorial 
organization of Nebraska between 1848 and 1854, but he gave his 
hearty support to the Hall Bill of 1853, which in all essential points 
was like his own bill of 1848. Dr. Ray has quite overlooked, too, the 
interesting debate upon the bill which Douglas introduced in 1852 for 
military colonies along the emigrant route to California. That the 
real purpose of this measure was to colonize Nebraska and prepare the 
way for its territorial organization, does not admit of doubt. 

Even if absence of motive on the part of Douglas could be proved, 
positive evidence would be needed to support the claims of Atchison. 
Lacking other support, Dr. Ray falls back upon Atchison's own state- 
ment, preferring to believe Atchison drunk rather than Douglas sober. 
It was not until September, 1854, that Atchison under the influence of 
liquor boasted : " Douglas don't deserve the credit of this Nebraska bill. 
I told Douglas to introduce it. I originated it." But in a public 
letter written in June, Atchison made no such claims; and two years 
later he made the frank and apparently sober avowal, " I do not say 
that I did it [i. e., secured the repeal], but I was a prominent agent." 
So far from proving that Atchison originated the repeal in order to 
triumph over Benton, the evidence would seem to show that the people 
of western Missouri were clamoring for the repeal before Atchison 
announced his conversion to the policy, and that he utilized rather than 
originated the movement for his personal political profit. 

Allen Johnson.